Sure enough, VRV Singh delivered 9 overs for 63 runs on an alleged green-top, and was picked in the squad, whilst Munaf Patel took 5 wickets to skittle England for 238, but is nowhere to be seen.
That said, the selectors made two decisions that I had hoped for.
First, Mohammad Kaif is retained, and that has been done in preference to Sourav Ganguly, who now looks even more foolish for failing to announce his retirement prior to this. Somewhere in Calcutta he is no doubt desperately singing Bruce Springsteen's "Fade Away," but his time has clearly come. At least until the next selection committee is appointed, that is. Looks like Dylan Thomas's words failed him.
Second, the wildly talented Piyush Chawla has been drafted into the squad. We haven't even reached the early days of his career, but from the little I've seen and lot I've heard and read, this 17 year old leggie who helped UP to the Ranji title has the world at his feet.
The squad itself breaks down as follows:
- Openers - Sehwag, Jaffer
- Middle Order - Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, Kaif, Raina
- Keeper - Dhoni
- Medium Pacers - Pathan, RP Singh, Sreesanth, VRV Singh
- Spinners - Kumble, Harbhajan, Chawla
A lot of intriguing options present themselves here, but there's really only one place up for grabs. Sehwag and Jaffer will open the innings, followed by Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman. Dhoni will keep and bat #6 or #7, and Pathan, RP Singh, Kumble and Harbhajan will all play. That leaves one spot for either a 6th batsman, a 3rd paceman, or a 3rd spinner. VRV Singh probably bowled himself out of contention today, so we're looking at Chawla, Sreesanth, Kaif and Raina gunning for that opportunity.
The exciting choice would of course be Chawla, with Kaif being the balanced option. Picking Sreesanth would be a real statement of intent - take on England's 4 pacemen with 3 medium pacers of our own.
I would personally like to see India go with: Sehwag, Jaffer, Dravid, Tendulkar, Kaif, Raina, Dhoni, Pathan, Chawla, Kumble, Sreesanth. Assuming Dish Network finally picks up the series, that will truly be fun to watch, especially if England counter with: Trescothick, Strauss, Vaughan, Bell, Pietersen, Flintoff, G Jones, Blackwell, Harmison, S Jones, Panesar. Not going to happen though.